South Side saturation patrols begin
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Police, firefighters and building inspectors flooded East Carson Street late Friday into this morning on the inaugural shift of a saturation patrol intended to put a damper on the alcohol-fueled chaos that has come to dominate the South Side on Friday and Saturday nights.
At a press conference shortly before 1 a.m. today, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said the patrol included six teams whose purpose was to scour bars, clubs and restaurants for building and fire code violations. The teams contained some combination of firefighters, building inspectors and police officers.
In addition, about two dozen police in cars and on foot were added to the East Carson Street corridor and surrounding alleys, instructed to nab lawbreaking revelers even on low-level offenses, like public urination, and to keep an eye out of parking violations.
"We'll be here as long as it takes until this area is a safer one and people can feel safe visiting and having a good time," he said.
The saturation patrol is intended to be a part of a broader, multidisciplinary plan to address problems in entertainment districts. The Pittsburgh Sociable City Plan, developed with the help of a consultant, also makes recommendations for managing transportation, for example, and social marketing campaigns that urge patrons to be more responsible.
While the South Side has long been plagued with crimes related to the string of bars such as noise, public urination, drunken scuffles, and impaired driving police, public officials have said crime has worsened.
Last weekend, five off-duty officers working private security details fired on a car as it swerved down East Carson Street as a crush of bar patrons flooded the sidewalks following last call. The driver, who now faces charges in the incident, and his mother were wounded.
First Published January 19, 2013 5:28 am